The street is filled with chatter and people moving in all
directions. Colorful textiles hang from carts as vendors shout over each other proudly hocking their goods. The sharp scent of spices and street food wafts from rows of bodegas, permeating the air with local flavors. People dig in their pockets for change, slapping cash into each other’s hands in exchange for various knick-knacks and goods.
Bazaars and street markets have been a human tradition since the early hunter-gatherers traded goods. As a traveler, there are few ways to better immerse yourself in a culture than by perusing the local markets. You will discover handmade treasures, taste authentic local cuisine, and help the economy. Put on your walking shoes and get to exploring:
Rialto Market - Venice, Italy
Right on the Grand Canal, Rialto Market is an astounding seven centuries old! Fish vendors (Pescarias) strictly adhere to sustainable fishing practices for decades – and their plentiful bounties of baby octopus, soft-shell crab and squid reflect the incredible quality control. Try to arrive early in the morning. By mid-afternoon the crowds have dissipated and the products are thoroughly picked through.
Chandni Chowk Market - Delhi, India
In the heart of Old Delhi, Chandni Chowk is one
of India’s oldest and busiest markets. A hub of commerce built by Muhgal Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th
century, the original design had canals running through it to
reflect the moonlight with a pool at its center (which was later replaced by a
Throughout the huge market, you will find Indian food and spices galore, bookstores, and vendors selling clothes, leather goods and electronics. Even by Delhi standards, it's congested. Huge crowds flow through the walkways, pushing between the carts and vendors, so guard your wallet and valuables.
Marché aux Puces de Paris/Saint-Ouen – Paris, France
Just north of the Paris city limit is a sprawling cluster of marketplaces known to locals as Saint-Ouen. Nearly two thousand vendors and 14 markets cover so much land that it requires a map to navigate. Even still, getting lost is highly possible … but who knows? It may lead you to a spectacular French antique or piece of art.
Many stalls cater to tourists, but there are a few authentic vintage stores for the determined shopper who really looks around. Even if your treasure hunting isn't fruitful, you can console yourself in the many exquisite French restaurants and cafés that populate the area.
Damneon Saduak Floating Market - Bangkok, Thailand
Never mind the exertion of actually walking to the vendors, let them come to you! In Thailand, the Damneong Saduak “floating market” is like being on a Disney ride you can interact with. Shoppers climb into longboats and are floated down a canal lined boat-filled vendors selling fruits, veggies, and meat skewers they grill right on their vessel.
The entire marketplace takes about 50 minutes to explore and is very tourist friendly. Shuttles run from Bangkok to the market every day.
Grand Bazaar - Istanbul, Turkey
Called the most intimidating shopping experience in the world, the Grand Bazaar is a covered complex that encompasses 66 streets with a mind-boggling 3,000 shops, 30,000 employees and 325,000 daily visitors. Always busy, bright, bustling, and vibrant, it's chaotic and an iconic shopping experience.
Visitors can find spices, dried fruits and nuts, jewelry, trinkets, and knockoff designer wear, among the diverse merchandise. Sweet and savory scents perfuse the bazaar. It is a lively experience that will stimulate every one of your senses, a must-see in Istanbul.
Pike Place Market - Seattle, Washington
Have you ever been shopping while fish was hurled over your head? Perhaps, if you've been to Seattle.
Directly across from the original Starbucks, the Pike Place market is the city's first and largest farmer's market. Vendors sell everything from freshly caught seafood to handmade souvenirs, coffee, fashionable accessories, and just about everything else you can imagine. Open almost 365 days a year, make sure you stop for a cup of clam chowder overlooking Elliot Bay for those Iconic oceanfront views.
Tonalà Market - Guadalajara, Mexico
If you are in Guadalajara, a stop by this famous market is highly recommended if you're looking to acquire some authentic Mexican crafts. Known for its beautiful handmade products and unique souvenirs, the Tonalà marketplace is one of the country's best artisanal centers.
Before Columbus’ arrival, Tonalà was a pottery hub for Native Mexican Americans, and is now well within the metropolis of Guadalajara. Observe glass-blowing workshops, rustic wooden furniture being constructed, and iron workers making molds. Artists sell hand-painted paper mache sculptures, and vases thrown and decorated in the same style their ancestors crafted.
Cairo, Egypt - Friday Markets
The Souq al-Goma’a (or, Friday Market) in Cairo is the real deal… it's not a tourist attraction. The largest of it's kind in Egypt, you will find everything from sunglasses and car parts to clothes, food, hookahs, and electronics.
Prepare yourself for a wild ride, as the market draws tens of thousands of lower - middle class locals a week, who come to buy and sell quite literally anything (from stolen goods to household necessities). With crowds this big, you may find yourself being jostled or pushed so stay extra vigilant about your belongings.